Anthony Bell studies Samantha Branning’s arrest record and Claire Richards’s police ID: they show the same woman. He is even more confused when Isla DeAngelis tells him that they’ve identified the dead Jane Doe from the quarry as ‘Samantha Branning’. In reality, the body of ‘Jane Doe’ who has been found is that of Portia Obinger, but they are now aware of this just yet. Anthony and Isla discuss the strange situation they are in, not knowing how it was that ‘Samantha Branning’ (who, unbeknownst to them, was actually their dead partner Claire Richards) died by train, and two weeks later was shot and dumped at the quarry. This is when the unsolved mystery becomes entangled.
Ant seemed flummoxed as he started at Claire’s ID tag and then back at my mugshot. ‘What the fuck is going on here?’ he asked.
‘Claire never mentioned a twin before,’ Isla scoffed. ‘And I for one don’t believe in doppelgangers.’
Ant got up to leave at last. ‘Just keep this messy situation between us until we finally figure out what the hell this is,’ he instructed Isla. ‘Do you think you can do that?’
Isla nodded confidently. ‘Sure.’
Ant and Isla visited Siobhan, who identified herself as my legal guardian. ‘We identified the latest Jane Doe as Samantha Branning,’ Isla told Siobhan. ‘We’re sorry to inform you that Samantha has been found dead.’
Siobhan’s face fell. ‘How did she die?’ She asked.
‘She was killed by a single gunshot wound about two weeks ago,’ Ant said.
‘Identification took some time,’ Isla admitted. ‘But now we’re definitely sure it’s her.’
This was nothing short of madness! First Claire was identified as ‘Sam’ by Felix, and now Ant and Isla were tagging Portia as ‘Samantha’. I had by now lost count of how many times I had been thought to have ‘died’ more than once.
‘Did Samantha have any problems with anyone while still living at home?’ Ant questioned Siobhan. He was determined to get as much information about me as possible.
‘Samantha came of age and moved out years ago,’ Siobhan explained. ‘We weren’t close, but we still kept in touch occasionally.’
‘Did she have a twin sister?’ Isla asked inquisitively.
‘No of course not,’ Siobhan insisted sharply. ‘Samantha was an orphan. She didn’t have any blood relations that I knew of.’
Ant was sympathetic towards Siobhan. ‘Well she could have had a sister that not even she knew about,’ he surmised.
‘If she did, it would be news to the both of us,’ Siobhan countered swiftly.
Lee and I had stayed the night at Felix’s place, Felix having offered us the main bedroom while he was staying over at his boyfriend’s place. ‘You know we can’t go back to the townhouse now,’ Lee fretted.
‘I know,’ I said. ‘All the more reason why I suggested we crash over here.’
Lee kissed my shoulder and nuzzled my hair in a moment of tenderness. Somehow, I knew that his romantic feelings for me were real. Unlike when he was with Claire, whom he never really loved or cared about at all.
‘Just for your info, Dr. Alan Nealon is flying in today,’ Lee said. ‘And he’ll be looking for you.’
I rolled my eyes and sat up. ‘For a brief second, I forgot I was a clone,’ I scoffed.
‘He thinks you’re the one killing the clones,’ Lee reminded me.
I heard someone enter the flat. At first, I thought it was Felix, and so I quickly came out. ‘He can’t possibly be back already,’ I said. ‘It’s still early morning.’
My guess was wrong. ‘It’s not Felix,’ I heard Siobhan call sharply as she entered the room. She folded her arms in disapproval, but was glad to see me safe and sound. ‘And you’re alive,’ she noted wittingly.
I was confused. ’Why wouldn’t I still be alive?’
‘I’ve just had two detectives show up at my house this morning,’ Siobhan informed me. ‘And they were quite convinced they’d found your body in a gravel quarry.’ Holy shit! They had actually mistaken Portia’s body for mine? How was I going to explain my way out of this one?
Siobhan handed over Ant’s business card, and I grimaced. ’Would you care to enlighten me?’ She demanded, clearly outraged.
I sighed and clasped my hands on top of my head, my fingers running through my hair. ‘I don’t want to lie to you, Siobhan,’ I said. ‘But I can’t fill you in on anything just yet.’ What I really meant was that I wasn’t ready to reveal the whole clone thing to my foster mother. ‘What did they tell you, anyway?’
‘Very little,’ she confirmed more gently. ‘All they know is that the victim was a non-Canadian citizen, but they have no other information on her background.’ I was relieved, and also glad Siobhan was ready to trust me in this. However, she frowned suspiciously at Lee as he came out of the bathroom. ‘And you are?’ She asked him.
‘Lee Dierden,’ he announced. ‘Sam’s new boyfriend.’
‘He’s staying with us for a while,’ I told Siobhan.
Finally, the tension was almost broken. ‘Whatever is going on, if it takes one step toward Katrina, you need to fire at them,’ Siobhan continued. ‘The home we’ve built for ourselves in this country, we burn it all down if we have to.’
Isla was busy with the facial reconstruction on Portia, when Ant dropped yet another bombshell to her. ‘I’ve just found the coroner’s report on Samantha Branning’s suicide, two days before Jane Doe was shot and killed.’
Isla was baffled. ‘Jane Doe can’t be Samantha Branning,’ she concluded with certainty. ‘Samantha Branning was already dead by then.’
‘Well the prints still match,’ Ant countered.
‘But then think about it, Ant. Samantha’s foster mother did say she had no blood relations that she knew of.’
‘Well what about Claire? There’s a fifty-fifty chance she’s a triplet separated at birth.’
Just then, I roamed into the room as ‘Claire’.
‘Claire,’ Isla said. ‘Speak of the Devil. We were just talking about you.’
‘I got your message,’ I replied stiffly. ‘Is this a bad time?’
‘Kind of,’ Ant informed me as he led me into the murder investigation room. ‘I don’t know if you know, Claire, but some questions have come up about your work on the Jane Doe case.’ I was gobsmacked. ‘Where are the examples?’ I asked him.
‘Due to the negative results on the prints, we were unable to come up with any records,’ Ant explained to me.
‘But it should be in there,’ I insisted, feeling uneased.
‘Well, we ran the prints again.’
I leant forward to get a closer look, but Isla abruptly barged in unannounced and shoved a snap of my mugshot in front of my face. ‘Care to explain this, Claire?’ She demanded.
I was horrified. ‘Is this a joke?’
‘You tell me. Does the name Samantha Branning mean anything to you?’
I just stared at myself in alarm. ‘Who the hell is this?’ I asked Ant, ignoring Isla for a few minutes.
‘So, you’ve never seen her before?’ Isla clarified, rather curtly.
‘No, of course not,’ I snarked. ‘Don’t be so ridiculous.’
Ant shrugged. ‘Everyone has look-alikes, I suppose.’ He had a great point with this adage. But Isla, being the rather disagreeable cow that she was, simply glared at me. ‘Do they?’ She scoffed at Ant.
Isla and Ant entered the morgue where they were greeted by Colin. He was eating a banana while reading a book with only two laid out corpses to keep him company. Talk about morbid!
Rather than greet Colin back, Isla cut straight to the chase instantly. ‘I need all the information on Samantha Branning.’
‘Why?’ Colin asked.
‘You processed her remains,’ Ant pointed out, describing Claire and the means of her death.
‘I process loads of bodies,’ Colin emphasized. ‘Is there a problem?’
‘Yeah, actually there is,’ Ant downloaded. ‘With the fingerprints on Jane Doe in the gravel crusher.’
‘There are still two other victims,’ Isla added. ‘One of them is Samantha Branning, the other a completely different woman.’
Colin called up Claire’s death shot on the screen. ‘Samantha Branning. Suicide by train.’
Neither Isla nor Ant were able to speak. They were stunned by my resemblance to Claire. ‘It’s uncanny,’ Isla finally murmured.
Ant still couldn’t find his voice; he was too transfixed by the image on the screen.
Isla turned to Colin. ‘I need the name and address of the person who identified her,’ she ordered.
‘No fucking way!’ Felix cried in horror as he was on the phone to Colin. ’Are you telling me you couldn’t lie to them?’
‘Felix, there was nothing I could do,’ Colin explained frantically. ‘There are records, your signature, address. Everything is on file!’
I listened as I hurried to pack up my shit and leave. I knew I was in very serious hot water. Come to think of it, so was Felix.
My foster brother hung up in despair. ‘Shit! Sam, where do you suggest we go now?’ he asked as I grabbed Helena’s coat.
‘I have no idea,’ I admitted. ‘At least not yet.’
Whether Ant was going to throw me in jail once I got found out or Dr Leekie and the other Revelationists were going to hunt me down as their oblation, I didn’t know. All I wanted was to fix things and be a real mum to Katrina. More importantly, I had to come clean to Siobhan about my Clone Sisters.
I told Siobhan all about Alison, Melissa and Claire as we were flipping through the photos album. ‘Alison is the one I bumped into first. I met her at Markham Village while looking for Melissa.’
Siobhan was stunned. ‘I could have sworn you were both the same person,’ she said. ‘That was until I learned about all of these young subjects.’
‘Alison, Melissa and Claire’s mothers all wanted babies enough to undergo the in vitro,’ I said. ‘So why did mine give me up?’
Siobhan was hesitant. ‘There were rumours about the children that these scientists were hiding,’ she admitted.
I came across a photo of Carlton. ‘Carlton’s likely to know who my birth mother is.’
The doorbell rang. It was Alison. I had instructed her to meet us over here.
‘It’s time I told you what’s really going on,’ I told Siobhan as I went to answer the door.
Siobhan was surprised, but all ears. Alison stepped in.
‘Siobhan, this is one of my Clone Sisters,’ I introduced Alison to my wide-eyed foster mother. ‘This is Alison.’
‘Hello, Siobhan,’ Alison said as she waved, but she didn’t smile. She was almost unable to, what with her marriage problems in the way. She had been busy drowning her sorrows.
‘It can’t get any stranger than human cloning,’ Siobhan chortled as she and Alison sat at the kitchen table. ‘You don’t seem too happy,’ she observed, noticing Alison was slightly on edge. ‘Please tell me all about yourself, sweetheart.’
Alison tried to figure out where to start. ‘To make a long story short, I went to university to study kinesiology.’
Siobhan nodded in encouragement, eager to hear more. ‘Sounds very interesting,’ she chimed in, delighted.
Despite not being keen on sharing her life story, Alison continued. ‘Anyway, that was where I met David, and we eventually got married.’ Her voice quavered. ‘And now everything has turned to shit.’ She was breaking down by then, and I could tell she was trying to hold back the tears.
Siobhan reached for Alison’s hand, but then more pieces fell into place. ‘She came to see Katrina in your place, didn’t she?’
I grimaced and braced myself for the accusation. But there wasn’t any. ‘I knew something was up,’ Siobhan said merely.
‘The crazy one, Helena, was after me,’ I quickly explained.
‘There are probably thousands of us out there, unless Helena has killed them all,’ Alison surmised miserably. ‘We’re all completely messed up.’ But then she turned to me. ‘Except you, Samantha.’ She smiled slightly as she said this, and this must have been the first time I’d ever seen her smile or not look tense. ‘You’re such a lovely mother figure,’ she said to Siobhan. ‘My own mother wouldn’t have been so supportive. She would’ve put me in therapy.’
We didn’t notice Katrina approach the front door. Or that Helena was there, watching us all from the front window. It was only when Katrina screamed at the sight of Helena’s appearance that we all turned around.
‘You still didn’t kill the bitch, as I asked you to,’ Tomas fumed at a tearful and distraught Helena. ‘Explain to me why not.’
Helena looked at her master with childlike defiance. ‘She has a daughter,’ she said with conviction. ‘And the child is innocent.’
‘Why is Samantha still alive?’ Tomas yelled angrily.
‘I already told you,’ Helena hissed. ‘She is special. We have a secret bond.’
Helena’s phone rang, but Tomas had already grabbed it before she could even reach for it. She lunged for it, but Tomas held it out of reach. ‘Tell her to come here,’ he ordered. ‘Now, Helena!’ He then connected the call.
But for once, Helena was willing to disobey. As he gave the phone to her, she immediately seized the opportunity. ‘Samantha, I need your help.’
‘Where are you?’ I asked, not buying into any of her batshit craziness.
‘I’m being held prisoner,’ Helena cried as I heard the scrambling in the background. ‘Please, you’re my only hope.’ But before she could say any more, Tomas dragged and shoved her through the floating gulag and to an animal cage, throwing her inside it. ‘I gave you everything,’ he lamented. ‘And what did I get in return? Weakness!’
Helena clutched the bars of her caged prison and violently shook the door. ‘Let me out,’ she sobbed.
I arrived at the gulag and located Helena. ‘You came,’ she gasped with relief.
‘That doesn’t mean I care about you,’ I replied acidly. I got the keys and unlocked the padlock. ‘Stay back,’ I warned her sharply. ‘And don’t try any shit.’ With much force, I kicked the cage door open.
‘You’re all I have now,’ Helena said as she crawled out of the cage. Slowly and cautiously, she approached me and proceeded to embrace me, although I couldn’t find it in myself to return the embrace.
I was terrified of Helena, seeing that she was unpredictable. But nowhere near as unpredictable as Tomas, who stormed into the room. He glowered at Helena. ‘How did you get out?’ he demanded.‘I let her out,’ I retorted. Helena grabbed the gun from my hand and aimed it at Tomas. ‘You made me this way,’ she said icily. She then lunged for him and attacked him mercilessly. She began to strangle him and I had to stop her from choking him to death, so I knocked her out unconscious. I locked Tomas in Helena’s cage and then bundled up Helena and threw her into the trunk of my Jag as I prepared to help her leave the floating gulag for good. My first thought was to take her to Dr Leekie, but decided against it, driving back to Siobhan’s instead.